Saturday, 29 May 2010

Philippine Kayaking Series, First Leg (Anvaya Cove, Morong, Bataan)

Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club

Jungle survival training demonstration
The first leg of Philippine Kayaking Series, dubbed the “Canon Powershot Kayak Explore Anvaya Cove-Subic Bay!,” held at the exclusive Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club (a 320-hectare leisure development by Ayala Land in Morong, Bataan) and Subic Bay Freeport Zone, is a kayak marathon organized by Mr. Valentin "Val" Camara, Philippine Kayaking Association president, and wife Ms. Andrea "Didi" Camara.  They will play host to 150 elite athletes which includes co-organizer Kayakasia Singapore’s Cher Huey and his 10-man delegation.  

The Novice Race gets underway
The 40 advanced class kayakers, took off, for the 25-km. first leg (estimated time of completion is 2 to 2.5 hrs.) from Anvaya Cove, and arrived at the Subic Boardwalk .  Once all kayakers were in, lunch was served. 

Later, an Aeta group, led by Tata Kasoy, did a native dance number and a jungle survival training demo (including how to start a fire, make cooking utensils, cooking food, etc,) using the versatile bamboo.   

Next in the agenda was kayaking clinic (teaching the basic skills) hosted by Val, and the novice race, done in two heats, for first-timer kayakers (including car racing driver Ms. Gaby de la Merced) on tandem sit-on sea kayaks.  
Romeo Castro & Alexis Atutubo
The novice race was won, with a time of 9:33, by Ms. Alfie Argana (a beauty and wellness spa manager from Cagayan de Oro City) and her 10-year old son Lance Argana.  Second were Karem Miranda and Neil de la Merced (brother of Gaby) followed by the pair of Kate Edrosolam and Patrick Hong.  

After this, the second 25-km. leg, from Subic Bay back to Anvaya Cove, was on its way.  At Anvaya Cove, the first in was the duo of  Mr. Romeo Castro and Mr. Alexis Atutubo (clocking an impressive time of 3:48:35), followed by Mr. Edward de Vera and Ms. Raven Qua while in third were Ms. Ranessa Santos (Anvaya Cove Activity Manager) and Mr. Mark Broncales (Anvaya lifeguard). 

Cher Huey (who arrived an hour late for the race due to an over-subscribed plane booking) and his Filipino partner still managed to place a respectable seventh (with a time of 4:37:14). 
The Novice Race winners

The day’s culminating activity was the Anvaya Cove Barrio Fiesta which featured a dinner buffet of local cuisine and Filipino dances and music. This was followed by the awarding of prizes, emceed by Mr. Joselito "Lito" Cinco, for the top three finishers, which included Canon underwater cameras, airline tickets from Cebu Pacific, Red Bull gift packs, outdoor items from R.O.X. and the Primer Group, David’s Salon gift certificates, Mojos sandals, magazine subscriptions from Action Asia, and overnight accommodations at Subic Bay International Hotel (where we stayed overnight) and Caylabne Bay Resort. Later, five locals did some brave kayaking, in the moonlight, over Subic Bay.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Hotel and Inn Review: Grand Mercure Beijing Central Hotel (People's Republic of China)

Date of Stay: May 25-28, 2010

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: *******
Condition and Cleanliness: *******
Staff Performance: ********
Room Comfort: *******
Food and Beverage: ********
Other Amenities: ********
Value for Money: *******

The stylish, 4-star Grand Mercure Beijing Central Hotel, formerly the Grand Mercure Xidan Beijing Hotel, is located in Xidan commercial and shopping area, a10-min. walk from Chang’an Street, 1.5 kms. from the Forbidden City and 2 kms. from Lake Beihai Park and the famous Tiananmen Square.
Grand Mercure Beijing Central Hotel

This international standard deluxe hotel  has 290 (we occupied 4) well-appointed rooms (de luxe double, superior twin, superior double, executive twin, presidential suite), all decorated in a modern style and furnished with cable TV, in-room safety deposit box, minibar and a private bathroom with bathtub. Free wi-fi, for internet and emailing needs, was available at the hotel lobby.
Room 603
The hotel has 2 restaurants and a coffee shop (Amazing Thailand Coffee Shop). The V9 All Day Dining Restaurant serves an international buffet while Cantonese dishes are offered at the China Kitchen Restaurant (with 10 individual VIP rooms).  It also has a bar, 24-hour Front Desk, business center, free parking on site, meeting/banquet facilities, souvenir/gift shop and a fully-equipped fitness center with heated indoor swimming pool, massage center and sauna facilities. An exemplary level of secretarial service is provided by The Executive Club.
Amazing Thailand Coffee Shop
The hotel also offer tours, travel assistance, car rental, airport shuttle, currency exchange, laundry, pressing and dry cleaning services, concierge and room service.
Heated Indoor Swimming Pool
Grand Mercure Beijing Central Hotel: 6 Xuanwumen Nei Ave., Xicheng District, 100031 Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Tel: (+86)10/66036688.  Fax: (+86)10/66031481.  E-mail:

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Resort Feature: Virgin Beach Resort (San Juan, Batangas)

The resort's white sand beach

The Balinese-style restaurant
Virgin Beach Resort is located along Laiya Beach situated along the coast of Sigayan Bay (one of the cleanest bays in the country) and Verde Island Passage.  

This 40-hectare (6 hectares developed) Class “A” resort, opened in 2005, is noted for the oversized proportions and sprawled layout of its facilities which consists of 16 cottages, a new, spacious and well-maintained shower room and a huge Balinese-style restaurant/pavilion, most built with simple, organic and natural bamboo.  The majestic Mt. Lobo serves as a tranquil backdrop to its beautiful beachfront area, truly a combination of land, sea and sky. 
The Parasols

The cabanas have electric fans and two queen-sized or one king-sized bed. The larger, stylish casitas, on the other hand, are airconditioned and come with two double beds.  All have en suite private toilet and bath and a spacious veranda with bamboo sofa.  Right on the powdery, tree-lined beachfront are the so-called “parasols,” canopied bamboo beds enclosed with cheesecloth drapes and come provided with their own mattresses, pillows, bed sheets and blankets for overnight stays.  

These were huge enough to accommodate 4-5 people plus all our bags.  All these provide guests with “exclusive” feel on account of a strictly implemented maximum number of guests, thus ensuring privacy and a bother-free and enjoyable stay.  Plans are also afoot to build an infinity pool set on a hillside. 

Virgin Beach Resort: Brgy. Hugom, San Juan, Batangas.  Tel: (632) 815-2584, 815-2587, 759-2020 and 759-2828. Fax: (632)817-6334 Mobile number: (0917) 813-1301. Email:  Website: